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Here is a brief summary of retail industry in India. Read about challenges and growth prospects of retail business in India.

Retail Industry in India

Retail is India's largest industry. It accounts for over 10 per cent of the India's GDP and around eight per cent of the employment. Retail sector is one of India's fastest growing sectors with a 5 per cent compounded annual growth rate. India's huge middle class base and its untapped retail industry are key attractions for global retail giants planning to enter newer markets. Driven by changing lifestyles, strong income growth and favorable demographic patterns, Indian retail is expected to grow 25 per cent annually. It is expected that retail in India could be worth US$ 175-200 billion by 2016.

The organized retail industry in India had not evolved till the early 1990s. Until then, the industry was dominated by the un-organized sector. It was a sellers market, with a limited number of brands, and little choice available to customers. Lack of trained manpower, tax laws and government regulations all discouraged the growth of organized retailing in India during that period. Lack of consumer awareness and restrictions over entry of foreign players into the sector also contributed to the delay in the growth of organized retailing. Foundation for organized retail in India was laid by Kishore Biyani of Pantaloon Retails India Limited (PRIL). Following Pantaloon's successful venture a host of Indian business giants such as Reliance, Bharti, Birla and others are now entering into retail sector.

A number of factors are driving India's retail market. These include: increase in the young working population, hefty pay-packets, nuclear families in urban areas, increasing working-women population, increase in disposable income and customer aspiration, increase in expenditure for luxury items, and low share of organized retailing. India's retail boom is manifested in sprawling shopping centers, multiplex- malls and huge complexes that offer shopping, entertainment and food all under one roof.

But there is a flip side to the boom in the retail sector. It is feared that the entry of global business giants into organized retail would make redundant the neighbourhood kiryana stores resulting in dislocation in traditional economic structure. Also, the growth path for organized retail in India is not hurdle free. The taxation system still favours small retail business. With the intrinsic complexities of retailing such as rapid price changes, constant threat of product obsolescence and low margins there is always a threat that the venture may turn out to be a loss making one.

A perfect business model for retail is still in evolutionary stage. Procurement is very vital cog in the retail wheel. The retailer has to fight issues like fragmented sourcing, unpredictable availability, unsorted food provisions and daily fluctuating prices as against consumer expectations of round-the-year steady prices, sorted and cleaned food and fresh stock at all times.

Trained human resource for retail is another big challenge. The talent base is limited and with the entry of big giants there is a cat fight among them to retain this talent. This has resulted in big salary hikes at the level of upper and middle management and thereby eroding the profit margin of the business. All the companies have laid out ambitious expansion plans for themselves and they may be hampered due lack of requisite skilled manpower.

But retail offers tremendous for the growth of Indian economy. If all the above challenges are tackled prudently there is a great potential that retail may offer employment opportunities to millions living in small town and cities and in the process distributing the benefits of economic boom and resulting in equitable growth.

Note: The above information was last updated on 21-07-2007